The Trouble With Skin Cancer Detection Apps

Posted on: 6 July 2016

Many people rely on apps for smartphones and tablets to help them take care of every aspect of life. Calendar apps help you remember appointments, other apps help you remember to change your oil or pick up items at the grocery store. There are still other apps to help you remember work tasks and your children's school obligations. There are now several smartphone apps on the market that claim to be able to detect skin cancer. These apps are not always accurate, though. If you are relying on an app on your phone to diagnose any potential skin cancer issues, you may want to adjust your thinking.

Accuracy Issues With Skin Cancer Detection Apps

The apps in question allow a user to scan a troublesome mole after paying a few dollars to use the app. The app then claims to be able to analyze the size, shape, color and attributes of the mole to determine whether the mole is cancerous or not. If the mole is deemed benign, the user is good to go. If the mole is determined to be problematic, the app directs users to see a dermatologist or primary care doctor right away. However, recent studies cite many instances where users relied on these apps for medical diagnosis and were surprised to later find that they had cancer after an app gave them a clean bill of health. Expert studies show that these apps are incorrect around 20-30% of the time. These apps are for novelty use only, and you should not substitute the diagnosis from an app for sound medical advice from your doctor.

Don't Skip Your Regular Doctor Visits

Regardless of how many apps you have on your smartphone or tablet, you should still see your primary care physician for a checkup every year, even if you are in perfect health. Your doctor can identify any worrisome spots on your skin, take pictures and then set up a plan to keep an eye on these moles and other blemishes to help identify any potential issues before they become major health problems. Between doctor visits, follow all the precautions to keep skin cancer at bay, such as sunscreen use and avoiding the sun during the height of the day.

Self-Checks Save Lives

You should also perform regular self-checks at least once per month. There are several reputable websites that will guide you through this process, and educate you on what to look for when you are examining your moles and other spots on your skin. If you have a mole that is growing, changing shape or color, turns a scary color, or has irregular edges, you should make an appointment to see your doctor right away to get skin cancer testing in your area.